SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson filed a court brief Wednesday supporting Santa Clara County’s request to halt an executive order by President Donald Trump that threatens to stop federal funding for California cities, counties, and possibly public schools.
Torlakson filed a friend of the court brief in the Federal Court’s Ninth District, where Santa Clara County has filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the President’s Executive Order of January 2017.
The injunction request said the order is unconstitutional because it would compel local governments to take an active role in enforcing immigration law and could withhold federal funding from agencies, including schools, which declare themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order doesn’t clearly define that term.
Torlakson last year urged California school districts to declare themselves “Safe Havens” and reminded parents and their families that state and federal law guarantee that students can attend public school, regardless of immigration status. To date, 57 separate school district boards of directors, representing nearly two million students combined, have adopted such resolutions.
“The Executive Order places schools, schools districts, and county offices of education, who have merely identified themselves as safe havens for undocumented students, in the precarious position of losing large amounts of federal funds without warning, notice, or clear guidance about what is meant by the order,” Torlakson said in the court brief.
California receives more than $8 billion annually in federal funds for kindergarten through twelfth grade education, which then goes to public schools, districts, and county offices of education. Federal funding ranges from help for students in disadvantaged communities to free and reduced cost breakfast and lunch for students from low-income families.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Santa Clara County motion on April 5, 2017.